I was brushing my teeth this morning when Pape’s coughing fit started. It got worse and worse until he couldn’t do anything but cough – no breaths in between. As I tried calming him down, Cheikh tried calling the pediatrician, but it was too early and no one was in yet.

We decided to call a nurse friend in the neighborhood who suggested we try steam. By this time Pape had been coughing intensely for 30 minutes, with the last 10 non-stop. And then he threw up. I was holding him, rocking, crying and shhhing, praying… Cheikh started the steam.

Finally Pape stopped coughing and immediately fell sound asleep, totally exhausted.

Asleep in the ‘panther hold’

That was 14 hours ago. His cough was better the rest of the day and we were able to get an appointment with the pediatrician for this afternoon.

We then waited over an hour and a half past appointment time to see him. I was starving and grumpy.

We left with a prescription in hand, and promptly had a disagreement over what the doctor had said about it.

Driving home we hit the kind of insane, chaotic traffic only Dakar can produce – people driving across medians and the roundpoint in all out free-for-all.

Made it home tired, hungry and dinner an hour out from being ready.

Cheikh went to the pharmacy while I tried to make pizza one-handed. I gave up. But not before finding out the water was cut.

He came home and said the pharmacy didn’t have the medicine. He turned around to go try another one.

I started Googling and calling pharmacies. Still one-handed because it was now after dark, which means the house is full of mosquitoes and we have to keep Pape close to be sure none land on him. (It’s malaria season, so have to be extra careful.)

Pharmacies 2, 3 and 4 (the BIG one downtown) that I call are all in ‘rupture de stock’ for this medicine.

It’s 90° in the house and 84% humidity. I am dripping sweat and trying to keep from sticking to Pape.

Meanwhile Cheikh is in a taxi driving around trying to hit pharmacies before they close. And his phone battery is dying.

The power at our house starts cutting in and out.

My wit’s end is just around the corner. My back and arms are killing me. I undress Pape and wrap him in a thin blanket to serve as mosquito protection, set him down and turn on ‘his music’, hoping it will keep him calm while I keep calling pharmacies.

Finally! I call a pharmacy that has the medicine in stock.

I send Cheikh a text message with directions, hoping his phone is still alive. I realize my phone is so low on credit that the message may not even send.

As I’m typing, I realize this pharmacy is located right near the pediatrician’s where we started this whole mess… five and a half hours ago.

At 10pm, we were sitting in the dark, finally eating dinner, and Pape was asleep in his anti-mosquito wrap. We looked at each other and said…

Nothing. Not a word. In that silence, our exhausted faces said everything.

Well. Almost everything. As we went to bed, Cheikh said, “You are going to blog about this, right?”